Sunday, May 30, 2010

Nate's Sleeping Positions

I wrote a post about this before, but here is a collage which also includes new pictures of some of Nate's sleeping positions
Sleeping Positions

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

LOST Alternate Endings

A lot of people weren't too satisfied with the series finale of Lost.
Personally, I was expecting to get answers to my questions about the history of the island, but in retrospect, the finale wasn't so bad - it just wasn't what I expected.

Here are some alternate endings the writers came up with:

Monday, May 24, 2010

The Other Side - Thoughts on the Lost Finale

I don't know whether to laugh or cry.
I turned on the final episode of Lost, "The End", expecting that on the other side I would have answers to all my questions about the island, only to end up more confused than before.

My initial thought is this:
Lost is the ultimate post-modern TV show. There are no answers. Everyone is left to make their own conclusions. And the point of the whole show was not to get answers to all our questions anyway, but the whole point was the enjoyment of the ride itself - and it was a great ride indeed. You know - "it's the climb"!

Here are a few random thoughts/questions:
  • Did everyone actually die when the explosion went off at the end of season 5? And those who stayed on the island were just "holding on" and refusing to "let go"?
  • If that was "the incident" - then was everyone who continued to live after the incident actually dead?
  • Did the island actually sink?
  • What's up with the time traveling?
  • Was everything real up until the explosion at the end of season 5?
  • Are they saying that there is no such thing as reality or here and now, and we all live in a make-believe world of our own imagination, which we have created in order to "find each other"?
  • Did Ben and Hurley stay alive and work together on the island for a while before eventually dying and catching up with the others in the alternate reality?
  • What happened to Michael? Isn't he stuck on the island?
  • What the heck is that island anyways? Did it really exist? It seems to me that it did.
  • Who built all that stuff like the temple and the heart of the island? What's up with the hieroglyphics? What is the origin of the statue?
  • How did the Dharma Initiative find the island? Why were so many people looking for the island?
  • What's up with the smoke? I get it that the guy died, but why did he become smoke?
Maybe the most significant line in the final episode was when Desmond told Jack that none of what they were doing mattered anyway, and all that really mattered was what awaited them on the other side...

I've got a lot more questions - but I am interested in what others who have watched the Lost finale have to say.
Did you watch it? What did you think? What are your theories?

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Monsoon Season

One thing I've recently learned from Sulekha, our Indian friend, is that everything is more severe in India. Poverty, bad roads, and the weather are all more extreme in India than in Hungary.
For the past few weeks we have gotten a ton of rain. It may not qualify as a monsoon, but nonetheless, for sleepy Eger, it's a big deal - it even came up as a prayer request at church.
In some of the surrounding areas there has been serious flooding. In Eger, the creek did overflow in one place, but it wasn't too bad.

Here are some pictures and a video of the Eger patak (creek) to give you an idea how much rain we've had.
Here is are pictures of how the creek usually looks; these pictures were taken in May last year:

And this is what the creek looked like this past Sunday:

The water has receded a bit since then, but it is still wet and rainy, and I noticed today that the part of the flood wall next to the church had collapsed:

This is Dániel, a friend from church, standing in the street in front of his house in Recsk:

Here is a video of the Szinva creek overflowing in downtown Miskolc:

Here's a report on rain in the region from a TV station:

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Value of Academic Theology

Here is what Augustine had to say about the value of academic study by those who preach the Word of God:

Now, it is a disgraceful and dangerous thing for an infidel to hear a Christian, presumably giving the meaning of Holy Scripture, talking nonsense on these topics; and we should take all means to prevent such an embarrassing situation… the shame is not so much that an ignorant individual is derided, but that people outside the household of faith think our sacred writers held such opinions, and, to the great loss of those for whose salvation we toil, the writers of our Scriptures are criticized and rejected as unlearned men.
Augustine, St On the Literal Meaning of Genesis, Taylor, J. H. (trans.), New
York: Newman Press (1982), p. 42.

I don't think that someone must be intelligent in order to be anointed by God or to be effective for His Kingdom. However, I have come to believe that if one is called and anointed by God to preach and teach His Word, that they should, as a good steward, be involved in academic study, to make sure they aren't misrepresenting God in their teaching, so they don't bring shame upon themselves, or worse, upon the Body of Christ which they represent. This is precisely what Augustine is getting at here.

I've talked to many people who have concerns about the academic study of theology, and for good reasons. They often say that people go into it with a desire to know God more, and that seminary kills their faith. Others point out that academic theologians often spend all their time splitting hairs theologically and ignoring the Great Commission to go and make disciples of all nations. What I have found is that if one goes to seminary as a born again Christian who has had a personal encounter with God, those things will not be a problem, but rather the study will deepen and strengthen one's faith.

Neglecting theological study in exchange for pragmatism is dangerous because anyone can just come along with little or no training, call themselves a pastor, and start preaching to whoever will listen. Sometimes this can be harmless, but many times it can be, and has been, outright dangerous and destructive. If one doesn't have a basic understanding of how to properly interpret and apply the scriptures, there is a much greater chance that they will teach things which are not the intended message of God in His Word, and this has surely led to much aberrant teaching throughout the history of the Christianity - people who didn't know what they were talking about taught things in God's name, which were not really God's true intention or desire. So, theological training is important.

Personally, the biggest impact my theological studies have had on me is that I feel I have gained a broader perspective. In regard to doctrines and theological issues, rather than just being exposed to one line of thinking, and repeating that which I was told by others, without really looking into things myself. I haven't really changed many of my theological convictions; if anything, I feel that my understanding of those theological positions has been expanded and deepened, and I have a better grasp on the big picture of WHY people believe the things they do, and what the background to different positions are. More than simply "is this opinion right or wrong", it comes down more to "HOW do people come to the conclusions they come to? What is the line of thinking that leads them there?"

Studying theology doesn't necessarily need to be done in a seminary or Bible College - I read about Martin Lloyd Jones that he was completely self-taught, yet he was one of the most influential theologians of the past hundred years. However one goes about doing it, studying theology and learning how to "rightly divide the Word of Truth", it is something which should be a priority to those who teach God's Word. We should have an idea what we are talking about.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Shopping Abroad: Ukraine

One of my favorite things about traveling to different places is going grocery shopping and looking for things I can't buy anywhere else, or things which are specific to that particular country.
I really enjoyed going to the market in Ukraine. You can buy anything there from food to clothes to electronics. There are stands and shops - the whole place is alive and full of people.

They have a lot of good food products there, and the prices are quite low.
Here are some of my favorite things from Ukraine:
  • Smoked cheese and "fonott sajt" (woven smoked cheese) - something we also like to buy in Slovakia
  • Fruit juice.
    There is good organic fruit juice at really cheap prices. I brought home a big pack of Соки України brand juice, which we have been drinking for the past week - I only wish I would have brought more!
  • Dark chocolate. They make good dark chocolate in Ukraine - I like the Корона brand.
  • Pomegranate juice.
    You can get a liter of 100% Pomegranate juice, organic with no added sugar or preservatives, in Ukraine for about 2.50 USD (450 HUF). I saw the same product here in Hungary for 2650 HUF (12 USD). I'm trying to figure out how I could make some money bringing the stuff over :)
  • Квас (Kvass). This is a drink made from rye, which kind of tastes like cola. I wouldn't say it's great - it's an acquired taste - but it sure is cheap: 60 HUF (30 cents)/3 liters!
  • Skittles - Can't get this American candy in Hungary, but they sell it Ukraine.
Soon all this stuff I brought back will run out, and I'll have to go back to Ukraine and load up again...but that's no problem at all; I like going there.

Here is a slideshow about our trip made by Kiss András and Ági

Friday, May 14, 2010

Ukraine Trip in Review

Thank you to those of you who prayed for our church's first mission trip to Ukraine last weekend. God really blessed out time there, and everything went very well.
Here's a quick rundown of how the weekend went:

On Friday afternoon we packed everything in to the cars. In total there were 8 of us - 7 from our church here in Eger, plus an American girl who is living in Debrecen, Haley, joined up with us. We took a donation of shoes and clothing, as this is what we were told would be a blessing to the people there. We got many good pairs of used shoes, and we collected money and bought new shoes to hand out as well. We were a bit worried if this would cause a problem at the border, but other than a long wait, we had no problems at all.
We stayed in a house that is owned by a Dutch mission in Beregovo (Beregszász), which was perfect for us, and right in the center of town. The Calvary Chapel meets in the kitchen of this mission house, and they have two side buildings which are perfect for housing teams. These buildings are in a courtyard which also has a bakery in the back - so each night, when they were baking the bread for the next day, we were able to eat the fresh bread while it was still hot. We also got some fresh milk (as in from a cow, not a store) to go with it. It was great!

On Saturday, we went to a boarding school (internátus) for disadvantaged kids in Vylak (Tiszaújlak). The kids in this school all spoke Ukrainian, so we had a translator who translated for us from Hungarian into Ukrainian. Joel did music, and Jani and Ági gave testimonies, both of which were very powerful - Jani talked about his childhood and finding the love of the Lord which transformed him, and Ági talked about growing up with a heart disease, and being told that noone would ever love her, and how she found love in the Lord, and how he shown her so much grace in her life.
The time at the boarding school was great, and we could see that the kids really enjoyed it. Joel was able to play some Christian children's songs which they knew the words to in Ukrainian, and so they were able to sing along. I also taught a short Bible study, as did Józsi. The only disappointing thing is that we didn't get to spend more time with the kids, because afterward they had to go to lunch and we had an appointment to do an outreach at a gypsy settlement in another town. It would have been great to play with them and spend time with them. Hopefully we can do that next time.

In the afternoon we did a concert outreach in a Hungarian-speaking gypsy settlement in Mezővári. The outreach went on for 3.5 hrs, but we kept a steady crowd. Many people gave testimonies of what God had done in their lives and shared the Gospel message. I taught a full Bible study and shared my testimony of how God healed Felicia, and there was a lot of worship music. The worship leader of the Beregszász Calvary Chapel knew some gypsy-style worship songs - which the gypsies absolutely loved, and got super into - even dancing in the streets! At the end we invited people to come forward for prayer, and we prayed for many of them, many of whom had serious problems.
It was great to see the openness of the people there to the Gospel message. It is really a good thing that is going on there, that every Saturday they have church service. When Jesus announced his ministry, he said: The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. (Luke 4:18)
The Bible has a lot to say about ministering to the poor, and was great to partner with this ministry that is reaching out to this outcast group of people, who literally live at the city trash dump.

Sunday we were in the Calvary Chapel in Beregszász, which meets in a very small room, but that gave it it's own special feeling. 3 people from our group shared their testimony, and then I shared my own and then taught the Bible study. They are a great group of people, and we all really enjoyed being in fellowship with them in the church.
After church we passed out some of the clothing and shoes that we brought to donate, and those who received them were very thankful.
All in all, it was a great time - God really blessed everything. Those who went, and many who couldn't go this time have been asking me already when we are going back! We hope to take 4-5 trips to Ukraine per year, and we are really seeking the Lord's directions as to where and how he would have us minister there. For the time being we really like working together with Józsi and the Calvary Chapel in Beregszász. They have a good thing going on there, and they can use the help.

Before heading back home to Eger, we drove 25km from Beregszász to Mukachevo (Munkács) to visit the city and their famous castle. Mukachevo is a beautiful town, and it was a nice way to wind down the weekend before going home.

One interesting thing comment about Ukraine for the end: Most cities have multiple names - a Ukrainian one, a Russian one, and in some regions a Polish one or Hungarian one. For example: the town we were in is called Bereheve in Ukrainian, Beregovo in Russian and Beregszász in Hungarian. That is all fine and well, but on our way back to Hungary we wanted to cross the border at a different place than we had entered through. So we were trying to follow the map and the road signs - but the confusing thing was that the road signs use the Russian names, whist the map uses the Ukrainian names, and when we stopped to ask people on the street for directions, they used the Hungarian names! The town we wanted to go to on the map was called Kosino, the road sign at the crossroads said Koson-15km, and the people on the street told us we should go to Mezőkaszony. Turns out it was all the same place, and we got there just fine, but it was a bit confusing... Oh well, at least it made it interesting :)

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Felicia Today

I realize I haven't put up many pictures of Felicia lately, so here are some I took today.

Tummy time

Laid back

Nate pushing his sister in the swing
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Friday, May 07, 2010

Trip to Ukraine

Today 7 of us from the church here in Eger will leave for Ukraine for the weekend. This will be our church's first "mission trip", and we are excited for what the Lord has in store.
Ukraine is a place that I have always prayed for - my family on my mom's side moved to North America from Ukraine, and when I first came to Hungary, my plan was actually to stay in Debrecen for a few months, and then move on to Ukraine. The Lord had other plans for me, but Ukraine's always had a special place in my heart.
For some time now our church leadership has felt that we would like to begin doing some ministry in surrounding countries, possibly in Ukraine - so for us, this is the first step in that direction.
We will be going to the Hungarian speaking region of Ukraine, right along the border, and working with Dankó Józsi, a man who works with Kelet Európa Misszió (Eastern European Mission) doing social work, and has started a Golgota church in Berehove (Beregszász in Hungarian).

We have a few goals with the trip. One is that would like to be a blessing and help to Józsi is what he is doing. On Saturday we will go with him to a gypsy settlement and a boarding school for street kids (internátus) - where we will do music outreaches similar to what we do here in Eger. On Sunday we will lead the church service in Beregszász.
Another goal is that I would like people from our church to see what real poverty is like, with the hope that it will change how they view the world. When I was 18, I took a trip to the Dominican Republic to do evangelism. We went into slums where I saw extreme poverty - and it had a big impact on my whole way of seeing the world. To this day I remember it often, and it made me realize how much I actually have - I began to appreciate my material blessings more; it made me complain less, and be more thankful. I think that everyone should have that kind of experience - it changes you.
One other goal with the trip is to "get our feet wet" in Ukraine. We feel like this is the first step for us to take in getting involved in ministry there, and after we do this, we will wait for God to show us the next step.

Here are some things you can pray for, for the trip:
  • Smooth border crossing - that it would be fast, and that there would be no problem with customs because of the donations we are bringing. That all the papers with the cars would be in order, and that we would be able to cross quickly and smoothly.
  • For the 2 outreaches on Saturday afternoon - that the Holy Spirit would give us the words to speak, and that the whole time would be anointed and effective.
  • We aren't exactly sure of how everything will go - so please pray that we would be flexible and led by the Spirit.
  • For safe travel and for the cars to run well. My car isn't running as well as it used to, and neither is Jani's - so please pray for them!
I hope to take pictures of our time there and post them here once we've returned.
Thanks for praying!

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

First Starbucks in Hungary

A few weeks ago I wrote about how plans for the first Starbucks in Hungary had fallen through. Well, yesterday I got this link in a comment.
Turns out that they really are opening a Starbucks in the Westend mall in Budapest after all.
Check out the pictures:

I can't say I'm all that excited about it - I'm much more interested in the new Café Frei coffee shop that just opened in Eger.

Please Pray for Dorothy Grace!

I just got off the phone with Enikő, the mother of little Dorothy Grace, whom I've been asking you to pray for. Dorothy's condition is not improving, in fact it is getting worse. She is now 3 weeks old, and is not responding to the treatment.
Her life is in serious danger right now. Please pray for her and for her dear family, and ask others to pray for her as well.
Thank you.

Most beszéltem Enikővel, a Dorothy Grace kisbaba anyukájával, akikért kértem, hogy imádkozzatok. Dorothy állapota nem javul, igazából egyre csak romlik. Most 3 hetes, és nem hat rá a kezelés.
Az élete most komoly veszélyben van. Kérlek, imádkozzatok érte és a kedves családjáért, és kérjétek másokat is, hogy imádkozzanak.

As of yesterday - May 6, Dorothy Grace is back on the respirator. Please continue to pray.

Monday, May 03, 2010

May 1 - Május 1.

We spent this past Saturday celebrating with friends.
Ezt a múlt szombatot azzal töltöttünk, hogy ünnepeltünk barátokkal.

Our day began here in Eger with Réka's high school graduation. Réka has been an important part of our church for the past 3 years. We are glad that she graduated, but are sad that she will go away next year to university, which means we won't see her as much. Réka finished school as the best student in her class! Good job!
A napunk itt kezdődött Egerben Réka ballagásával. Réka egy fontos része a gyülekezetünknek már 3 éve. Örülünk, hogy sikeresen elvégezte az iskolát, de sajnáljuk azt, hogy jövőre elmegy innen egyetemre, ami azt jelenti, hogy nem fogjuk olyan sűrűn. Réka a legjobb tanuló volt az egész osztályában! Hajrá!

After the graduation party we left for Debrecen, for the celebration of the church's 15th anniversary party. The only thing is that the church isn't actually 15 years old - it's only 14 years old :) But we had a great time and got to visit with some old friends.
They had a trampoline - one of my favorite things in the world. We had a trampoline growing up, and when ours ripped, I spent a lot of time as a teenager at other people's houses jumping on their trampolines.
They also had a jumping castle. Nate was pretty scared by it - but Rosemary wasn't :)
Here is a video of the first 14 yrs of the Debrecen church.
Here are some pictures:
A ballagás után elindultunk Debrecenbe, az ottani Golgota gyülekezet 15. évfordulója alkalmára. Az egyetlen izé az, hogy a gyüli nem 15 éves - hanem csak 14 :) De nagyon jó volt régi barátokkal találkozni.
Volt ott egy trambolin - az egyik kedvenc dolgom a világon. Otthon is volt trambolinunk amikor felnőttem, és amikor tönkre ment sokat jártam másokhoz akiknek volt trambolinjuk.
Meg volt egy ugráló vár. Nate félt tőle - de Rosemary nem :)
Itt van egy videó a debreceni gyüli első 14 évről
Itt vannak a képek: